Facebook may be ’pivoting’ to something worse - BBC News
Over the past few months, Mark Zuckerberg has spoken at length about his grand plan for fixing Facebook.
In short, it involves “pivoting” - as they say - to a more private social network. One which focuses on closed spaces, like groups or messaging, rather than the public News Feed.
He unveiled this plan in March, a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit.
At the time, I noted that critics were concerned that the shift would mean Facebook was abdicating some of its responsibilities. Making Facebook more private would arguably not remove the problems of abuse - though it would make it harder for outsiders to find instances of Facebook’s failures.
Recent stories have demonstrated that concern was perhaps justified.
Groups have, of course, been a feature on Facebook since the early days. But never before have they had such prominence.
Facebook, as directed by its leader, is aggressively pushing users to use groups more often. There’s an advertising campaign - which includes hand-painted murals - and a new button placed front and centre in its mobile app. Private is the new public.
“_This vision could backfire terribly,” warned French journalism professor, Frederick Pilloux, in 2018. “An increase in the weight of ’groups’ means reinforcement of Facebook’s worst features - cognitive bubbles - where users are kept in silos fueled by a torrent of fake news and extremism.”
Make no mistake: few, if any, of the problems Facebook is “working hard” on at the moment would have come to light were it not for external pressure from journalists, lawmakers, academics and civil rights groups.
The examples I’ve raised here pose a question: is Facebook fixing itself, or merely making it harder for us to see it’s broken?